Another dominant bowling performance followed by another effortless chase led Kolkata Knight Riders to their third win of the season, thrashing Kings XI Punjab by six wickets in Mohali to go on top of the table. Knight Riders’ bowling depth was perceptible as their spinners ripped through Kings XI, in a sub-par batting performance, to keep them to 138 for 8. In the chase, Robin Uthappa’s quickfire fifty effectively sealed the game. In 13 games this season, 12 have been won by the chasing team.
Put in to bat, Kings XI lost Manan Vohra early when he flicked Morne Morkel to deep square leg but M Vijay looked in rhythm, scything drives and cuts before failing to pick a googly from Piyush Chawla. A slow start was made slower by the questionable promotion of Wriddhiman Saha to No. 4, who struggled in his 14-ball 8. Shaun Marsh, though, held one end up despite struggling for fluency.
The stage was set for either of David Miller or Glenn Maxwell to fire their side back into the contest, but Knight Riders’ experienced bowling attack strangled their strong middle order. With two left-handers batting – Marsh and Miller – Gautam Gambhir turned to Yusuf Pathan for the first time this season. The move reaped rewards instantly when Miller edged Yusuf’s first ball and Uthappa took a sharp catch. Maxwell soon resorted to a switch-hit off Sunil Narine, but Kings XI’s season was summed up when he hammered it to extra cover. Narine’s remodeled action returned two wickets in a frugal spell with an economy rate of 5.50.
In a format where teams target implausible numbers during the second half of an innings, Knight Riders’ spinners ensured Kings XI could only rebuild after leaving them at 94 for 5 in the 15th over.
In between, Marsh used swift footwork to accumulate runs and was particularly effective square of the wicket, on both sides. He got to his fifty in the last over with a sweetly-timed lofted drive over long-on. Along with Kyle Abbott, he took Andre Russell’s first over – the last of the innings – for 18 to lift Kings XI to 138.
With that total, Kings XI needed a miraculous start to have any hope, but Uthappa and Gambhir pushed Knight Riders closer to the target with nine boundaries in a 65-run Powerplay, the most productive in this season.
The seamers, Sandeep Sharma and Kyle Abbott, were inconsistent but when they did find their lengths, Uthappa was able to clear the infield with lofted strokes on the up, on a pitch offering even bounce and carry.
Uthappa eased himself to his first fifty of the season off just 24 balls but his premeditated sweep resulted in his dismissal, as he played around a full delivery from Pardeep Sahu. Gambhir looked set for another fifty before a leading edge was acrobatically taken by Glenn Maxwell, running in from deep midwicket.
Axar Patel removed Manish Pandey and Shakib Al Hasan, but Suryakumar Yadav and Yusuf took Knight Riders home with 17 balls to spare.